Governor Edward G. Rendell said Pennsylvania's ports in Erie, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will be more secure now that the state and private entities that operate them are receiving $8.6 million worth of grants. The grants will be awarded through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's port security grant program.
"A terrorist attack on any part of Pennsylvania's trade infrastructure could result in the loss of a significant number of human lives and would have a dramatic impact on the continued economic health of our nation," said Rendell. "It is imperative that all necessary steps be taken to reduce the risk of such an attack, while recognizing the need to maintain a proficient and secure transportation network."
A grant to the Pennsylvania State Police is the only one awarded to a state agency. Other agencies receiving federal grants include the City of Pittsburgh, Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.
The $1.66 million grant to State Police will be used to:
"A terrorist attack on the Port of Philadelphia, with its extensive petrochemical refining capabilities, cargo facilities and military presence, could result in the loss of lives and critical infrastructure," State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said. "This grant will enhance our ability to deal with any potential threat."
"The Philadelphia port system imports more perishable goods than any other port in the nation," Rendell added.
Under his direction, the governor said the commonwealth is forging partnerships with public and private entities to strengthen security capabilities at the ports of Philadelphia, Erie and Pittsburgh. State agencies support the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port's Area Maritime Security Committee in each port zone.
The grant to State Police resulted from a cooperative study by the law enforcement agency, the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware River Maritime Enterprise Council, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's PennPORTS office to identify potential security gaps in the Delaware Bay area.
Miller said other agencies involved in the planning included the Pennsylvania Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, the Delaware Information Analysis Center and the Delaware Valley Regional Working Group. Representatives of the petrochemical refining industry in the port area also collaborated, he said.